Plans are nothing ... Planning is everything
May 12, 2009
It was Dwight D. Eisenhower who said, "Plans are nothing; planning is everything." I believe that the way he meant it to be understood implied that whatever you plan, you will be obliged to deviate from in response to circumstances "on the ground." Nevertheless, the very fact that you have taken the care to develop, discuss and put in place a plan will serve you extremely well, no matter how much deviation you are obliged to take.
About a year ago, my first participation in an event for Jefferson Laboratory was when I went along as a passenger for a presentation of the Business Plan for the laboratory made by Christoph Leemann, Tony Thomas and Mike Dallas to the Office of Science. This year, the planning exercise for the business plan started in late 2008 at a meeting of the chief research officers of the different laboratories. Tony Thomas was our representative. Over the course of several meetings attended variously by Tony, Larry Cardman and Theresa Foremaster, we slowly began to see what the Office of Science was looking for and how we should address it. The senior leadership of the laboratory started to lay out the skeleton of the plan and to fill in the story.
The document was completed and submitted in nominally draft form to the Office of Science on April 22. In the document, we start with a single page that attempts to capture the essence of the laboratory. You have seen that appear in several talks and, indeed, I use something very similar when, as last week, I get 15 minutes to brief an overworked Congressional committee staff person in Washington about our needs.
What the laboratory is capable of doing is covered by our core capabilities, Nuclear Physics, Accelerator Physics, Applied Nuclear Science and Technology, and Large-Scale User Facilities. Each of these has several components. For example, the Nuclear Physics includes both experiment and theory, and computational work with Lattice QCD. Accelerator Science includes our work on FELs. All the preceding aspects feed the applied technology. One example is the FEL work for the Navy, another is the superconducting radiofrequency work for the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Also in that category are the imaging detector applications to mammography and prostatography.
This base then allows us to conduct a series of major activities. The 6 GeV Nuclear Physics program using CEBAF comes immediately to mind, so does the 12 GeV Upgrade Project, and also the Electron Ion Collider work. Together, these push the three buttons -- design, build and operate -- that constitute the Large User Facility core capability. That it is large is clear from our international community of 1,200-1,300 users.
Superconducting radiofrequency work is also a major activity as is our work on light sources by the FEL for several customers, especially the Office of Naval Research. Our goal for the FEL is to generate and support an important science program.
It’s not possible to execute such a breadth of activities without a functioning infrastructure of buildings and support functions, and the plan that we developed - the Department of Energy Laboratory Plan, TJNAF - covers those aspects and the resources we see being needed and being provided over the next several years. We also had an opportunity, in developing the plan, to provide a critique of the challenges or issues associated with our matching departmental performance measures over the next 10 years or so.
On April 29, our representative team, which included Mike Dallas, Larry Cardman, Andrew Hutton and George Neil (Tony Thomas was representing the laboratory in an important ELIC discussion at the Deep Inelastic Workshop in Madrid, Spain), made a formal presentation of our plan to DOE. Jerry Draayer representing SURA, the majority owner of JSA was also present. In addition to all the associate directors of the Office of Science or their representatives, and our own site manager, Jim Turi; importantly Undersecretary-Designate for Science Steve Koonin, and Director-Designate of the Office of Science Bill Brinkman were there.
A very good interaction took place. The group seemed to think that our story was well constructed and well laid out. There were exchanges in which our associate directors, Larry, Andrew and George, were able to make some important points. The infrastructure story from Mike Dallas with reference to General Plant Projects and the Technology Engineering and Design Facility was also well received. In the end, as you can likely tell from the tenor of this note, we felt pretty good about the outcome. Of course, the input came from a much larger group and embodied the hopes of all of us at the laboratory.
So, we felt that the "Planning is everything" part of the Eisenhower quote was fine. Meanwhile, we hope that what we have laid out is close enough to reality for us to understand and implement the needed deviations, and that things will not be so dramatic that we find ourselves saying: "This plan is nothing."